Saturday, August 24, 2013

And Now About Ben Affleck As the Bat-Man

As much as I love Christian Bale I have always loved Adam West. And as much as I hated Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck has the jaw. Don't expect a lot of rage out of me since I supported Heath Ledger as the Joker after I hated the choice of Jack Nicholson. Allow me my churlishness, but I am more surprised that the next big DC movie is based on World's Finest themes and the usual incoherent Frank Miller tripe, not the interesting stuff.

Okay, Frank Miller might really rock with his self-hating view of the world with works about Marvel comics Wolverine or three hundred scantily-clad Spartan warriors, but not everybody who likes DC comics agrees. Beyond looking to retarded views of the 1930s as the justification for your mindset in life, for Batman, and Superman, he sucks. He doesn't do much for any real Batman fan. And I am not sure where the man ever did anything for any Superman reader.

Now some Time Warner sponsored writer is going to point out the Miller theme of Superman and Batman fighting. These writers will point out that is always what superheroes do in the comic books of their youths. What they forget to point out is that they were reading Marvel Comics, and never really liked DC comics. Disagree? Prove me wrong? DC heroes tended to really like one another, and Superman and Batman never fought until they were both about 90 years old in a world that resembled Mitt Romney's version of a brave, new world.

It kind of pisses me off, even more, that everyone holds DC to a standard that they do not hold Marvel comics to when it's about films. Spider Man appeals to the 14 year-old movie goer, while the Iron Man appeals to ever shrinking crowd of casual comic readers with wives and kids, and daydreams of illicit affairs-- like James Bond, but silly. A franchise of really bad movies can culminate in a really spectacular marketing campaign that culminates in the Avengers being made. And we forgot about it the next year despite the best efforts of a bunch of PHDs thinking Iron Man 3 was awesome.

Do not talk to me about the money behind anything. Marvel comics' Electra was competing with DC's Cat Woman, and the production crews showed that they were out of touch not anything good to watch. But somehow DC character movies are either not the mainstream DC (The Watchmen and Jonah Hex) or are simplistically trying bad movie tricks. It worked for Batman but it hasn't worked for Superman nor anybody else. And this trend ignores the strength of the folks around the brand misplaced  conceptions based off of the last Marvel movie. And the Hollywood formula is only only providing us with substandard Green Lanterns and crap about Thor.

Now I have explained my problems, but if you want to hear what I think would be better, let me know. I do have some ideas.

GenCon '13: Aftwards

Bluebirds: Monday morning went smoothly. I was able to get the car and head out quickly. We had brunch with McLea and Power Girl. I used the morning to reacquaint with him. Peryton so loves hanging with her brother and sister-in-law. Amy turned her menu into a GM's shield and we played the last game of GenCon 2013. I am not making anything up here. And tamales, tacos, and pancakes were had. There was much rejoicing. We almost forgot that we were on parking-metered time.

On the way home, we stopped off at JerryTel's house for a sit down. The man was in his undies and sucking up air conditioning and soccer. Obviously, imploding a day before I could. The bastard.We made plans for Peryton's B-Day festivities in October.

And Upon the End of Things: I wasn't able to hang with friends like Ken St Andre, Todd Rooks, or Jeff Combos. But I'll work on that next year.

Many of my other friends don't get GenCon anymore it would seem. Monk no longer likes running into strangers. The Butkas are busy raising a family. The folks that I know that do come find the event's immensity rather daunting and detracting from me spending time with them. None of these situations I can answer to, except that, I'll make time for anyone on Sunday night after GenCon AT 7:30 PM AT THE BOURBON STREET RESTAURANT.

GenCon '13: Nooks and Crannies

The Hotel:  I keep having very favorable impressions of this place though there is some cognitive dissidence going on. Well, the place is trying to sell itself as the 1920s beset by the 21st Century that has happened to fall around its ears. For the most part I get it.
My room was nice single with a large-assed bed with a little room to move around because they were able to remove the TV cabinet for a flat screen. But if you opened the front door, people could stare at your wife stepping out of the shower... without her and you being paid first. And resort-style services, like towel replacement or someone nice at the front desk, was dependent upon the people on the clock whenever you thought to bother them.
The pub and grub joint was stepping up, even if they weren't quite certain who was supposed to be reading the menu that the hotel management was making them hand out. I speak to a certain chef, or cook, or whatever dude standing in front of an open flame with a spoon, who made a wait person walk back twice to show that the menu promised "Biscuits and Gravy All Day" on Sunday morning. Don't get me wrong here, the Canterbury's restaurant bar is wildly world class in essence. Luckily the staff doesn't know it, because it was one nice place to hang out for the likes of me. Even if I was the one guy who didn't order scrambled eggs for breakfast.

At the same, I'd be awoken at 5:15am by sulfur fumes from a dump truck outside after falling asleep at 4:10am. The maids liked to hide clocks after setting their alarms, while not picking up towels. And then there was a telephone in my bathroom. Hard core space utilization. Hard to say if I like the place or not. Apparently the hotel is still trying to figure things out.

The Bonfire: As parties go. I really have nothing to complain about. And in case that you haven't noticed, I'm into parties. Whether or not you're into them, I am not all that concerned. And if you haven't noticed yet, we need to make this clear (Sligo).

Old Home Eve (the night before the convention), was a success. Peryton wanted Cladagh as our spot, I ensured it. Bruce Wayne made sure that we got there. Eloy Lasanta, John Kenedy, Jerry Telehe, Robin Fenner (Caed) and about 18 other folk showed up to show how much fun can be had on the night before GenCon. This year, other folks friends added on about 6 others, I think the pictures are available elsewhere... . John the waiter mentioned that the table was reserved for 14, not 22 at the end of the night. I think I made things right.

The after party of Old Home Eve is worthy of mention. I was hanging with JerryTel, Caed, and Sligo (F. Scott Grant) after the big party and reconnecting with reconnecting with them. Luckily, when Sligo wasn't worried about about being burnt at the stake for being a Christian, he was trying to sell Amway through a game that he was designing, and then after that he was more than willing to hang out with debauchees. I frankly was being provocative. The other two friends waded through things with notable patience. But it was still a good after party.

By not running a "Cthulhu versus the Ratpack" scenario, a group of folk decided to not talk to me. I suspect this handful of folk were responsible for my no-shows on Friday for a game that was sold-out.  During the day before at the booth, I noticed each of you that scrambled by making sure to give me ominous stares. Well, I am working on something else these days. I've had you go up against Yog Sothoth, Dagon, and Glaaki. You've resurrected important personages and had a remake of The Highlander. What have you got in your pocket? I'll play in it, just let me know.

Two, no three times I held JerryTel up while I found things to party with him about. Running next to him was awesome for that. We definitely have to make this a tradition. I had the most fun when it was him, David, Cram and me discussing intricate T&T details after my Saturday night game.

That same evening, I got to know a lot of the bikers in Indy for the weekend. Jordan, Batman, pulled me to a bar about half a mile away from where I was running games. We didn't end up getting any beer because apparently bikers en mass don't drink beers darker than Bud. But hey, I didn't drink but I got to dance before getting back to my games.

Now the break on Saturday between 9-Midnight is notable. First off, it was a surprise. As you might have noted before, I dropped off a single player showing up at my game off at Peryton's Qalidar session. But I headed back to the Canterbury's bar. They had, according to the menu that got me into so much trouble over the weekend, "Live Jazz."

Michael, me, and the ever sexy Victoria.
And once again the restaurant-bar did not fail to provide . The live jazz was provided by a trio of music students, from probably the best of Indianapolis-based students of higher culture. How would I know this? Because I heard the best renditions ever of Blue Note records from 35 years ago, sticking to how the songs were originally played. I closed my eyes to hear how the trio was doing rendering some classics. But every time I peeked, certain people were watching me enjoy the music being played. Finally, I just opened my eyes. Though not anybody working the bar would've noticed that I was isolated. This is because people wanted to talk. 

From there, the party of Saturday night started creeping towards me. The band had stopped playing while gamer dorks thrust forward to work their magic on the female saxophone player and the cellist. The drummer had nothing else to do so he just drank. So, from my single chair in the bar, I ended up getting intimate with Steve Bergeron, his beautiful and learned wife Cait, Cameron MacDonald and the every sexy Ashley Dinning. And this group was hanging with Chris Birch of Achtung Cthulhu fame. I ran into Steve and Angelia Parenteau from Carnage, which only made matters worse. Now more people wanted to party because I was hip with gamer hepcats. Not a good night for music. And though I wanted to fall into the spiral that is the Ennie awards and being an insider gamer at the Canterbury, I had a midnight game to get to. Amazingly, my drinks and socializing worked right on schedule, as I went into radio news mode, a job I had in college. I was not late to the game.

The whole of Sunday was pretty much a party. Peryton made a point that it was her day to open the booth. I chatted up a fellow at Canterbury's restaurant while enjoying their Sunday special of "Gravy and Biscuits All Day". Then Jordan and I did lunch with James and Dawn Sutton, Sligo and Cram showed up just in time to come along as well. We did the lounge at the Crown, funny how popular that place is for folks trying to avoid the crowds.

The booth breakdown took all of 15 minutes, which took Colts Gal (Jordan's Amy) and Bruce Wayne by surprise, as they had ordered lunch at the Canterbury while waiting for us. Sligo and Jordan had some secret scheme that was going to make everyone very happy. Peryton threw her support in because she was on a buzz from her massive successes this year. So it was a "Let's make a non-Tom plan" kind of like party. When it entailed no one being able to rest or eat at a nice sit-down place without games in front of them, it mostly just annoyed everyone that was not Sligo or Jordan. But I did get to demo a game that was pretty awesome called Spark 500.

Back in the car I felt compelled to lecture Jordan that I didn't like being driven around to meet local friends of his who didn't feel compelled to go out of their way to meet me either, while sticking to some haphazard schedule that kept me busy after a long weekend of keeping to a strict schedule and talking to strangers who wanted to talk to me. Constantly maximizing potentials works with investment and in maybe in corporate social functions, not people on a vacation. If only Caed was around, she is very good at seeing these sorts of situations coming. She'd have whispered to me, "Go catch a nap" before I agreed to the group dynamics of earlier. She is my youngest sister for a reason.

At Bourbon Street, and on time, the place where I told a number of people that I was going to be that evening. It'd seem that none of my intimates wanted to be there, though no one had told me, except Cram. I had the pleasure of being dumped off on the corner with Peryton and McLea and his Amy, while the Indianapolis natives sped off for elsewhere. Mike and Amy were kind of the lost souls in all of this. They had just wanted to go out to eat, but the man's leg is a little gimpy and the restaurant is about a mile from our hotel. We thought that we were going to have to call a cab not having our own rides. Luckily Jordan swung by again, wanting to say good night properly. He gave the two a ride back to Canterbury, the spot that he had had his second lunch in three hours, watching them starve while waiting for him to drive them to where they thought they were going to get diner earlier. McLea and I would speak of the afternoon's events where he'd conclude, "You and I were the only two people that knew what we wanted, while everyone else drove."

Now able to sit back and enjoy the evening with Peryton, and a couple from Arizona and another from Kentucky, which I can't name for "game security" reasons, we were having fun again. Being out on the balcony was awesome. A bikers' party and our own blended together, and jokes about the structure collapsing commenced when a fellow named Alex expressed anxiety feeling a little bounce when rumbling vehicles, like his own motorcycle, went by.

After our new traditional walk from the Bourbon Street to where ever we are staying, we hooked up with McLea and his Amy, let's call her Power Girl from now on for obscure reasons. Cocktails were had, and I played butler with cheese and crackers. I got a kick when I realized that their bathroom had a window just meters away from a walkway to the mall. With the shades open the whole world could admire my awesomeness. Pity no one was there at that time. One has to love the Canterbury.

Friday, August 23, 2013

GenCon '13: Is it Satyrday Yet?

The Fireworks: Did you hear that I like to run games?

Well, I happened to run only eight of those this year. A measly 26 hours worth of labor at that. But these substitutions for having any real life seems to make up for everything else missing elsewhere in my life. Let's talk about these sessions for a bit.

I used T&T to get the blood flowing on Thursday night. Had a pretty good handful of players, three, jumping in to play "The Sorceress and the Chimera." A kid, below the age of not being protected by privacy traditions, if not actual laws, in Western culture, flattered me by figuring out the math that I was playing with. Yes the 8th grader might have not been doing calculus but she did make the gamer "geeks" around her look like posers. I am sure it's Obama's fault.

Smart kid, her dad, and guy nice enough to show up.

The late-night game "Bigger Than a Breadbox" for my Crawlspace 13 game went off well. Not only did I have a full table, I had my sister Caed Phaser, Robin Fenner, there. Zach is a DJ and one of the hosts of Rockin' Comics, both the podcast and a website domain. He brought a friend, Rob, who I am going to make a friend. Then a couple other players showed up while one of them happened to be distractingly beautiful. I had to remind myself not to stare at her more than anybody else. She would actually play with my avoiding gaze showing me how neurotic that I was being. After a few minutes, after I established that everyone there was important (TALK ABOUT A MASTER OF BRETCH, Dr. Nik). Then I got more casual.
Oddly enough, that looker was only going to be around for an hour before flitting elsewhere. The game ran 40 minutes over, the looker stayed for the whole BBQ and I was running around asking "What did I miss?" to the players. Even more stranger I did not need to rewrite my plot, because the players never went off the script that I had in head.
These players were so into their roles that even when they were hiding underneath tables, which I did not tell them to do, they'd stay in character as everyone else would hear the tones of the dialog going on, though nobody knew what was being said exactly. The players above the table would suddenly burst into a new scene.  For the second time in this rendition of Crawlspace's lifespan, I had to deal with tabletop role-players suddenly becoming actors.Once again, I was a GM looking at the unleashed results of Stanislavsky-influenced methods in his story, I kind of feel like Frankenstein when this happens. I think that I kept up admirably.
The next day I found out that the looker from Doug Jean, Zach, and Rob, that the rather stunning role-player was actually a working actress by the name of Jordan Trovillion. Well I am about to take a sudden interest in Tom Cruise films. Hopefully, Crawlspace 13 will be graced with her presence again. She can even show up at a Old Home Eve if she really has to.

On Friday I started out with my single entry for Spacers (TM), which is currently in transition, called "Attack Of the Androids." The three players that I had adapted better than most when they realized that I had baited and switched them. Instead of a battle against androids they got the moral and ethical considerations of their actions when dealing with fully articulated artificial intelligence. I really want to keep in touch with these three players. The evening's offering of T&T had another three players with "The Temple of Pan." I think I sucked as a GM, the players flatteringly added a lot to the story and showed themselves so awesome adventure gamers. I made a break through in a certain "bronze-age" work that I have been at for some time. And lest I forget, the quote "Is it Satyrday yet?"  came up at 11:30pm. No one showed up for my "Hopelessly Lost" scenario for Crawlspace 13 except a fellow from Philly named Mark. I, despite being worried about not having any players for a midnight game, told the young man, that he was invited back the next next night.

Saturday was an unexpected bag of fixings to say the least. My early evening T&T game "Who's that Demigod? " had five players show up with the their their preregistered tickets. Another showed up with his friend's ticket. Yet another three showed up with generics asking for admittance to my game. And I while I had three people that knew how to play the T&T game, I had three with pre-registered tickets that were sampling the game having never played it before. I Was a little stressed. But with well-worked GM techniques and three folk dropping out of the game from texts from close family or friends, I think I did marginally well. Only one person showed up for Glow's "Out of the Bubble" with which I tossed him over to Peryton's Qalidar scenario going on at the same time. I had a bit of a party that I'll talk about later.  Mark showed up for the Crawlspace 13 midnight session, and I cheated at the cards to make sure that he'd be significant character in the story. And though I was suffering from late players and a bit of Godzilla gut, not any ill effects from my three hour hard-drinking party minutes before, there was a decent scenario to be had.

The reader should note that all my impressions are subjective.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

GenCon '13: Tie Me To the Length Of That

Our Time As a Piece of Wax: "Premier Group" status for Peryton Gamers at GenCon was for me a perk for doing what I'd be doing anyway. I run games. It is what I do. Others do other things. JerryTel has assumed a role of responsibility as a PeryPubber, he's basically what could be called a "Convention Event Organizer" for us. Peryton mostly bathes in steamy mud and eats bonbons.  Now Pery, Jerry, and me all get our badges elsewhere but because of all the games that we ran on top of our badge sources, identified members of our group, Tom's Admiring Horde (Look it up for yourself), could get their own badges for time rendered at the booth and/or as GMs.

Now the fact that those promised free GM badges came at a 67% success of showing up and doing what those wanting the badges said that they'd like to do does not escape me. Luckily, I was not staying up nights like JerryTel who was living with this everyday. So next year, we'll do more of a "Show Up, Do It, and get paid cash money" sort of strategy. Though there are six folk who are on the "Insider" track, if not "Blood Relative," for free badges next year.

To quote JerryTel over Guinness Dark Lagers at Champions on Saturday, "Let's celebrate the one and only year in the premier league." But considering our performances in the past before this year as well as this year, I bet, even despite changes as to what being a premier group means, that we didn't do that terrible. Lemme whisper something, "I know people who tell me things."

Whether or not we get "premier status" next year tends to be a bit beyond the likes of JerryTel, Robin, or myself. But statistic-wise, we did not worse than anyone else with fewer than a million bucks. And for the intangibles, we had plenty of them.

My main point is, is that a tagline for PeryPubbers should be, "We don't work the system. The system works us." But in truth, we never feel the tug. We tend to be already doing what makes folks happy and willing to give good feedback. Like us or Hate us, guess what!?! We are there.
All that said; if you yanked my chain, I don't really give a damn. But buck up if you want to be show up at GenCon as someone with privilege. Think about it, we got your real name, the one with the photo that you'd have had to show up someplace that you committed to being at. Or you can start talking to someone more hippy than us.

The Grind: Our games though, were going kind of spectacularly awesome.

This was Robin's year. Every running of Qalidar: The Resistance sold out. And the premier print version, available only at GenCon, damn nearly sold out. We have like three in a box with a dozen dibs on them. In shared wanderings, I heard that someone ( a "furry" ) offered her minutes to cuddle with him, and four others with pointy ears and tails to boot, for a copy. But one needs to make a commitment and have cash on hand. Sorry Dolitltes, the woman works hard and expects some respect.

Still, "We" had a very good year. And to translate to the I-Phone generation, we had a very good !!!!!! :-) year.

W. Scott Grant ran a wonderful T&T adventure, which from all feedback, two sources to date, did wonderful. Every one of Jerry Teleha's did rather awesome.  Michael C. Lea, MC Lea, rocked the house with superheroes, from three sources no less. Mine did well, and had a couple gems in the middle of the grind.

Mostly what I garnered from my lackluster performances was material for up-coming works.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

10 Years As a Piece of Wax: GenCon '13

A Trip Through Cornfields

Last Tuesday night, about ninety minutes after I punched out at my day job, Peryton and I had the car packed and ready to go. So with an early night-feeding of the cats we were off. Having gone down to Indianapolis a couple weeks earlier we drove through Toledo and then towards Defiance and Forth Wayne to get there. Either the route is just new to us, or the loop around Columbus and then the crawl through the Dayton area just suck, but even 35 miles longer, the trip went by quickly and we weren't in rigor mortis by the time we arrived at Jordan's, Bruce Wayne's, house at 3:15 am or so. The door was open so we found our nooks after a a quick "Hello. Grab a beer!" scene with our host. He acted like he went to sleep, but I bet the Penguin was up to no good.

I think Robin was rearranging her purse until 7:30am or so.

And Let's Begin the Began

The Booth: Grabbing the badges, setting up the booth, checking in to the hotel, with a lunch break went rather efficiently. Last minute items like getting our posters hung and a couple cozy chairs I'd have to be a bit more patient with. The posters got taken care of about an hour after we opened and the chairs arrived sometime in Thursday afternoon. But overall we had more than enough help and friends willing to come by keep us company. I think on Friday I felt a little overworked but luckily James and Dawn Sutton were right next door. Eloy Lesanta, of Third Eye Games, and Jeff Combos, of Exile Games, both two game designers that I want to be when I grow up, would plop down in a chair and we'd chat a little shop as well as just talk. But overall, there was always some PeryPubber, or "Blood Relative" to coin a term I coined dragging James Sutton off for a drink, ready to jump aboard and help out at anytime.

As for sales and the general impression we were trying to make. Our spot had a general public book shelf right behind us, so we turned our book shelf inward to share a shopping aisle with the ever full Studio 2 shop. Our area was saved for a sit down area where spontaneous parties, as well as study halls, would break out. I joked with many people that "Last year we worked too hard sitting behind a table like we were recruiting Scientologists. This year we're raising the bar in laziness." I threatened that we'd shoo away anybody looking at our books.

That said what was really going on was that I've noticed that sales in the context of role-playing games is 89% name recognition, 10% art and/or shocking title, and 1% salesmanship.  We'd get busy on the game tables, usually after 1pm for me. No need to be uncomfortable when waiting for nibbles on top of being under-slept and usually hungover. And my own face-to-face sales percentage increased by 250-7,ooo% over last year. ...Peryton probably is thinking 'I told you so' as she reads this.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

GenCon Is Never Going To Be Easy

About seven months ago I had close to 2K in American greenbacks as a bit of a nest egg for this year's GenCon. And even after paying for the PeryPub booth and the 2013 Dark Gather, including the bells and whistles, I had about about 1,400 left to play with. And then around April an insidious scheme to relieve me of my breathing space ensued.

Despite my measures, my bills and even my own projects, ensured that I'd once again be on a tight budget. And then there was the unexpected adventure with Jerry.

Well thanks to my Kindle Fire, all of my scenarios are in a carrier that fits into my front pocket. It's a little heavy and I should be staggering drunk every GenCon after my 45th birthday, but I'll survive. Or I won't. Trust me I am happy.